In the fall of 2019, IPSOS conducted a survey revealing that about half of Canadians were living in precarious financial circumstances, and 48% of us were about $200 away from bankruptcy. Economists at the time said they didn’t know what the future would hold, as we all went forward into these dire financial straits.
Little did anyone know at that time, that we would be hit by a pandemic, economic shutdowns, and a crisis of the magnitude that Canadians have never seen before. The government of Canada has reported that the total number of bankruptcies in Canada has increased by 6.4% in February of this year. The fact that the number isn’t higher is attributed to the quick reaction of the federal government with income supports directly to Canadians. But these are precarious times, and we can only hang on, if supports continue.
We can measure the economic toll that this crisis has had. We can count the number of cases, and the number of vaccines, and sadly tally the total of lost loved ones, but what we cannot measure is the stress that each of us is under in these horrifying times.
It is not enough to call it stressful, trying, or difficult. These are highly troubling days that we live in. The toll we are all paying now is monumental, if we measure it in stress, loss of sleep, isolation from family, longer working hours, shorter pay, and uncertainty, inability to pay rent or buy food. We are paying this toll by taxing our bodies, our resolve, and our hope. We are paying this toll with our own personal mental health . We cannot be trite and say, “hang in there.” There is no platitude that will serve in this situation. We need local action.
There are 1.2 million small businesses in Canada that are hanging on by a thread, some of these are located in our own community. They need your help if they are going to survive. We know that these small local businesses are the engines that drive Canada’s economy, and without them, it will be nearly impossible to think of economic recovery post-pandemic.
Do what you can from home to support them. Pick up the phone. Call a local business. Ask them how they are doing. Ask what you can do to help. Send them a virtual hug. Connect, but stay home.